Embrace Hope

Several years ago, some children were asked to share their resolutions for the new year. This is what they came up with:

  1. Joey age 10 – “My New years resolution is to not eat as much sugar. But il probably won’t keep it.”
  2. Hadssah age 7 – “I am going to stop picking my nose. It is going to be hard.”
  3. Declan age 11 – “My New years resolution is to eat 10 bags of clementines each month.”
  4. Brianna 2nd grade – “ . . . my resolution is to not wig out like I’m seeing the Lockness monster when I see a bug!”
  5. Annie age 5 – “I am going to help doggies! Like if they are stuck on cliffs.”
  6. Will age 4 – “ Eat all the cake.” 

I especially love that last one. Like Will, I too would love to eat all the cake. 

New Year’s resolutions. The tradition of making resolutions at the start of a new year began over 4,000 years ago within ancient Babylon. The Babylonian people would reaffirm their loyalty to their king, make promises to pay their debts and return any items they had borrowed from others. To complete all three tasks was viewed as a way to earn favor from the gods in the coming year. 

Under the rule of Julius Caesar, the Romans would also make resolutions at the start of a new year to earn favor with the gods. They believed that their god Janus was able to see into their past and into their future. By offering sacrifices and promising good behavior, their hope was that Janus would offer them a favorable year.

For early Christians, the start of a new year became a time to reflect on the past and the mistakes made and resolve to do better in the future. Methodist founder, John Wesley, began to hold church services on New Year’s Eve. At these services, the people read Scripture, sang hymns, and prayed for the coming year. 

Today, New Year’s resolutions are commonly made with the focus of self-improvement. Many vow to eat healthier or exercise more. Some will make promises to quit smoking, limit sugar intake, or watch the words they use in front of their children. Others will focus on stress management, realigning priorities, or learning a new skill or hobby.Now, these are all good things, but I think that many of us may be missing an opportunity here. What if instead of just focusing solely on our self-improvement, that we looked at the start of a new year as a time to gain some heavenly perspective? What if we chose to remember what was, reflect on what has been, and hope for what’s to come?

Think back with me for a moment on this past year. Life, for many, is so different now than it was a year ago. 2020 brought a great amount of change, uncertainty, and so much struggle for so many people. I cannot think of another time in recent history where a desire for a fresh start has felt so needed. But before we can move forward, it is important to first look back and remember and reflect on a few things.

First, remember what was hard. What was particularly hard for you this past year? What was difficult for your family to walk through? Remember what was hard and name it. For many, COVID was hard. There are others though that have lost a loved one, walked through a separation, or received an unwelcome diagnosis for a child. Remember what was hard this past year.

Next, remember what God has done. How did God provide for you in the past year? What healing did He bring? What circumstances did He see you through? Many of the Jewish celebrations we read about in the Scriptures were celebrations held to remember. To remember what God had done in the lives of His people. It is easier to trust that He will be faithful when we’ve practiced remembering how He already has been faithful. Scripture tells us:

“Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things he does for me.” 

Psalm 103:2 (NLT) 

“Once again I’ll go over what God has done, lay out on the table the ancient wonders; I’ll ponder all the things you’ve accomplished, and give a long, loving look at your acts.”

Psalm 77:11-12 (MSG) 

Remember what God has done. Remember how you have seen His hand move in your life and in the lives of others. 

Next, take some time to reflect on this past year.  Was there any good to be found in the midst of the hard things you walked through?  What did you learn? What promises of His did you find to be true? Did you learned anything about yourself? Did you learn anything about God? Reflect on the lessons He had for you in this last year and remember that His Word always stands true.

“It is the Lord who goes before you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or abandon you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

Deuteronomy 31:8 (AMP)

“Jesus Christ is [eternally changeless, always] the same yesterday and today and forever.”

Hebrews 13:8 (AMP)

Lastly, resolve to rise with hope. When we resolve to do something, we are making a firm decision on a specific course of action. We are purposeful and intentional with our steps moving forward.  There was so much about last year that was hard, but, there was so much good that came from it as well. Commit to placing your hope in the Lord and rising to meet and embrace all that He has for you in the coming  year.

“We put our hope in the Lord. He is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord, for our hope is in you alone.” 

Psalm 33:20-22 (NLT) 

“Let us seize and hold tightly the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is reliable and trustworthy and faithful [to His word].”

Hebrews 10:23 (AMP)

Remember, reflect, and resolve. Resolve to rise with hope. We can have hope because Jesus will remain unchanged yesterday, today, and forever more. We can rise with hope because He is reliable, trustworthy, and always faithful.

Works Cited:

Gray, Timberley. “The Importance of Reflection.” Living Our Priorities. https://livingourpriorities.com/the-importance-of-reflection/. Accessed 4 Jan. 2021.

Pruitt, Sarah. “The History of New Year’s Resolutions.” History. https://www.history.com/news/the-history-of-new-years-resolutions. Accessed 5 Jan. 2021. 

Richamond, Mom. “Funny New Year’s Resolutions From Kids.” Richmond Mom. https://richmondmom.com/2016/12/19/funny-new-years-resolutions-from-kids/. Accessed 2 Jan. 2021.

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